They [feminist groups in Iraq] are very strong. Their approach is unique because they have no leaders. They do not have a head of branch offices. . . . This movement is made even stronger by not having leaders. If one or two people lead it, the organization would weaken if these leaders were arrested. Because there is no leader, it is very strong and not stoppable.
~ Shirin Ebadi, 2003 Nobel Peace Prize Recipient
For a number of years, I have been writing and speaking about the decentralizing forces that are bringing about the collapse of our highly-structured, institutionalized society. Such warnings must always be listened to with skepticism, for it is the nature of any complex system to generate unpredictable outcomes.
Nonetheless, events of recent years provide confirmation of my prognostications. Alternative schooling, dispute resolution, and health-care practices; political secession and nullification movements; the decentralization of management in business organizations; news-reporting moving from the centrally-controlled, top-down model of traditional media, to the more dispersed, horizontally-networked Internet; individualized technologies such as personal computers, cell-phones, iPods, video cameras, and other innovations that enhance person-to-person communication, are just the more evident examples of how our social systems are undergoing constant centrifugation. If the successful practice, in a number of European cities, of abandoning government traffic signs in favor of a motorist-controlled system does not impress you, perhaps you will recall the collapse of the Soviet Union.